Dagga – Part Three

6 December 2008, 2:48 pm

Part One

Part Two

Mervin Morkel, a classmate, introduced me to reggae at some point during the long months that we were out on national school boycotts in 1980. Deep in winter, and bored with the ‘alternative education’ programme – listening to speeches, singing ‘freedom songs’ that were mostly old spirituals or hymns – or wary that police action may be imminent, we stayed home. Mervin would visit, carrying his sought-after army knapsack brimming with vinyl records: Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Forces of Victory, Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights, Jimmy Cliff’s Follow my Mind, “Remake the world” from the latter featuring as a freedom song sung at ‘mass meetings’ at school:

Too many people are suffering
Too many people are sad
Too little people got everything
While too many people got nothing

Remake the world
With love and happiness
Remake the world
Put your conscience to the test…

Bob Marley in there also, of course. Kaya, Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration, Zimbabwe, later Uprising. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dagga – Part One

28 November 2008, 4:42 pm

I first smelled dagga when I was seven or eight, walking to primary school with my brother. The walk took us through a small veld that was a familiar shortcut for school children and workers. Our neighbourhood, New Orleans, was a new one and of the 1970s, called a ‘community development project’ (Gemeenskapsbou-projek) by apartheid planners and part of the town planning and development required by the Group Areas Act. New Orleans was one of countless new ‘community development projects’ across the country which were to accommodate those kicked out of areas then recently declared white.
Read the rest of this entry »


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